Press Release

A Victory for Affordability: Student Spending on Course Materials Declines 22% During the 2021-2022 Academic Year

A Victory for Affordability: Student Spending on Course Materials Declines 22% During the 2021-2022 Academic Year

New Report from Independent Research Firm Student Monitor Finds Decade Long Decline of 44% in Student Spending in the Category

Average student spending on college course materials, including textbooks and digital materials, declined 22% during the 2021-2022 academic year according to new data reported today by independent research firm Student Monitor.  The trend continues a decade long decline according to the research firm, with student spending on the category dropping a dramatic 44% between the 2011-12 and 2021-22 academic years.

“Course materials are more affordable now than at any time in the past decade,” commented Eric Weil, Managing Partner, Student Monitor. “Student spending dropped 22% during the most recent year, coming in at an average of just $314, in large part because Students are tailoring their purchases to the requirements of their individual courses, and taking full advantage of some of the new affordable options.”

The $314 in average student spending on course materials during the 2021-2022 school year reflected an average $101 spend for new, printed textbooks; $69 for used, printed textbooks; $47 for rented, printed textbooks; and $97 for eTextbooks.

Freedom of Choice: Providing Faculty and Students with Options

“Higher education publishers have continued to focus on both quality and affordability, and the results have been remarkable,” commented Kelly Denson, Vice President, Education Policy and Programs, AAP. “Even as student spending on course materials has declined during the past decade — dropping a substantial 44% — publishers have dramatically expanded their offerings, providing high-quality content and courseware within delivery models like Inclusive Access, and print rental in addition to other formats like digital, loose leaf print, custom solutions, and individual learning apps. The result gives both faculty and students the freedom and flexibility to choose the materials that work best for them.”


Student Monitor conducts hour-long, one-on-one, on campus intercept interviews among 1,412 four-year, full-time undergraduates attending 94 representative colleges and universities.

“Student Monitor’s findings reflect comprehensive, in-depth discussions held with students to find the actual costs associated with purchasing college course materials,” commented Student Monitor’s Weil. “Our findings consistently show a downward trend in student spending, illustrating the long-term trend of greater affordability in the course material environment.”